Silverfish: Good, Bad, or Just Ugly


Many pests can invade the home. Some of those that look terrifying are silverfish. They look shiny and slimy, plus they seem like they have two heads as both ends have antennas.

Silverfish look like they are swimming when they crawl. However, they can run fast like spiders. They are so disgusting, so it’s not surprising when people worry about them.

Silverfish are not bad for humans because they do not bite and are not known to spread diseases. However, they can do considerable damage to one’s belongings, in particular those that are out of natural fibers such as paper and fabric. Silverfish can cause holes and leave yellowish stains behind.

Just because you have spotted a couple of silverfish doesn’t mean that there is a silverfish infestation. Still, silverfish like to stay where it’s dark, which means that there could be many around.

Continue reading if you would like to know more about silverfish and a few essential matters about them.

image of silverfish

Do Silverfish Bite?

Silverfish do not bite. Human blood is not a part of their diet, which is why they don’t find biting humans necessary. What they can cause humans, however, is frustration and added expenses. Silverfish can cause damage to belongings, especially those out of natural fibers, by leaving holes in them.

When it comes to common household pests, one of the many things that leave homeowners stressed and anxious is that they could be bitten by the critters that have invaded their home.

Nothing can be more terrifying than being bitten by pests because it is associated with pain and diseases, too.

The good news is that silverfish do not bite humans.

That’s because human blood is not part of their diet, unlike bed bugs, mosquitoes, lice, and other insects that love feasting on your blood.

Still, some people have reported that they were bitten by silverfish.

However, it is very much possible that the silverfish involved were just threatened and not hungry.

Or it could be that those silverfish were after the clothes that their victims were wearing but miscalculated.

Damage to the Property

Silverfish can damage belongings. They are known to devour many different things inside the home, including books, paintings, photos, wallpaper and clothes. If really hungry, they will also eat synthetic fibers, leather and dead insects. Silverfish tend to stay and multiply in moist and dark places.

Unlike some common household pests, silverfish won’t get in your way. They tend to stay where there is moisture and very little to no light, such as in the attic and basement.

Still, coming across belongings that silverfish have feasted on and damaged can make it clear that you are sharing your home with these tiny crawling critters.

Dead silverfish may also show up on your meals from time to time, which is why you should keep on reading to know if silverfish can harm you if they end up in your mouth.

Are Silverfish Poisonous?

Silverfish are not poisonous. Also, they are not known to carry or spread diseases. It’s because of this why having them in the pantry or kitchen should not be a major cause for alarm. Still, it can be disgusting to eat anything that has been contaminated by silverfish or contains dead silverfish.

Many people are aware that silverfish tend to feast on anything out of paper, such as books, magazines, wallpaper and photographs. They also devour clothes, in particular those that are out of natural fibers.

Unfortunately, the list of preferred foods by silverfish does not begin and end there.

Silverfish also love snacking on an assortment of dry foods, including those that are commonly stored in kitchen cupboards and pantries.

It’s because of this why silverfish can also be considered pantry pests.

Because silverfish love eating flour, cereals, bread and crackers, it is possible for you to end up consuming them without your knowledge.

This is especially true if there is a silverfish infestation that you are not aware of.

The good news is that you will not die from accidentally eating silverfish.

However, you might throw up if you realize that lots of dead silverfish are floating in the milk of your cereals only when you are about 90% done with having breakfast.

Eating silverfish will not kill you alright, but it’s disgusting.

Similarly, there is no need to worry if your dog or cat eats silverfish, whether dead or alive. Still, it’s not a good idea for your furry pal to eat silverfish or consume pet food infested with silverfish.

Signs You May Have an Infestation

Different common household pests make their presence known in different ways.

For instance, cockroaches leave a musty and oily smell — the minute you take a whiff of this odor, you will know right away that cockroaches are around.

On the other hand, bed bugs leave red dots on your skin that come in clusters or a zigzag pattern.

The problem with silverfish is that they don’t smell like cockroaches and bite humans like bed bugs. Due to this, you may fail to immediately recognize that you have a silverfish infestation.

Luckily, there are some telltale signs that you have lots of silverfish at home. They are…

Live silverfish

Silverfish are called as such because they move back and forth when they crawl, making them look like they are swimming.

Like what the name suggests, they are silver in color, which makes them look like they are metallic or slimy.

What makes it difficult to tell whether or not there is an ongoing silverfish infestation is that they tend to stay away from the light.

This is why they are more active at night or where it is very little to no light.

image of silverfish climbing

However, silverfish can infest just about any part of the home, from the attic to the bathroom.

Droppings

Fret not that it’s rare for silverfish to be spotted in the day or well-lit areas.

That’s because there is something that can reveal their presence aside from seeing them with your own two eyes.

It’s none other than the droppings they leave behind. Silverfish droppings look like ground black pepper or peppercorns.

It’s where silverfish hang out most of the time where you will spot lots of their droppings. The problem with silverfish droppings is that they are so small that you may easily mistake them for dust.

Shed skin

Many insects shed their skin until they reach adulthood and no longer grow.

Silverfish are different — they continue to shed their skin until they die.

It’s because of this why having a silverfish infestation can cause you to come across lots of shed skin that looks like tiny husks so thin they are sort of transparent.

Just like their droppings, you will find the shed skin of silverfish where they sleep or eat. They also tend to stick to surfaces, although this does not make them easier to spot by someone whose eyes are not watchful.

Yellowish dust or stains

Silverfish secrete a yellowish substance that can leave a stain on various surfaces, from fabric to paper. And as they shed their skin, silverfish also tend to produce a yellowish powder.

The majority of the damage that silverfish can do to your belongings is due to the yellowish stains that they leave behind rather than the gnawing they do.

Clothes, drapes and other items out of fabric can be washed to get rid of the unsightly stains that silverfish tend to cause. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for paper-based items.

Physical damage

If there are tiny holes in books, magazines, cardboard, clothes and others out of natural fibers such as paper and fabric, there is a huge possibility that you are sharing your home with silverfish.

image of silverfish hole

They may not bite you or put your health in shambles alright, but silverfish can cause considerable damage to your belongings that serve as their food.

Many insects prey on silverfish. Some common examples are spiders, earwigs and centipedes.

Needless to say, the presence of silverfish can attract other pests into your home, and each one of them can cause further damage.

In conclusion, silverfish are not bad for you because they cannot wreak havoc on your health.

What they can damage are your belongings, including old photos that cannot be replaced, expensive artworks that you have invested your savings in, and wallpapers that make your interiors look fabulous.

Since they can cause unnecessary stress and expenses, too, silverfish should not be considered as welcome guests.

Related Questions

Is a silverfish infestation a sign of a dirty house?

Having silverfish around does not necessarily mean that your house is dirty. However, it may mean that there is water damage due to leaks or floods. That’s because silverfish love to thrive in places where there’s excess moisture.

Is having silverfish a sign of mold presence?

One of the things that silverfish eat is mold. Both silverfish and mold love homes with a lot of indoor moisture. If you have silverfish as a result of leaks and floods, it is very much possible that you also have a mold problem.

Photo credit: ©canva.com

Wyatt Welch

Hi, I am Wyatt, and I live in North Carolina. I've been working as a Pest Control Technician and now I am enjoying my retirement. This blog is a perfect outlet for me to share my knowledge in the field and I'd be happy to help if you have any questions.

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